Many travellers regard Aurangabad as little more than a convenient, though largely uninteresting, place in which to kill time on the way to Ellora and Ajanta, yet given a little effort, this city can compensate for its architectural shortcomings. Scattered around its ragged fringes, the remains of fortifications, gateways, domes and minarets – including those of the most ambitious Mughal tomb garden in western India, the Bibi-ka-Maqbara – bear witness to an illustrious imperial past; the small but fascinating crop of rock-cut Buddhist caves, huddled along the flanks of the flat-topped, sandy yellow hills to the north, are remnants of even more ancient occupation.
Modern Aurangabad is one of India’s fastest growing commercial and industrial centres, specializing in car, soft drink and beer production. It’s an upbeat place, boasting plenty of restaurants, bars and interesting shops in the old city. Easy day-trips include the dramatic fort of Daulatabad, and, just a little further along the Ellora road, the tomb of Emperor Aurangzeb at the Muslim village of Khuldabad.